To Decorate or Not to Decorate the Home Office

So, you’ve got your home office set up with your desk, computer, a comfy chair and other business-related necessities. Now what to do about those bare walls?Many home office experts agree that when you decide to work for yourself from home, one of the perks you get is to be able to decorate the room however you want – no more corporate rules about what is and is not acceptable wall or cubicle ornamentation.“My overall opinion is that the office should be a reflection of who you are and what you do and the things that you like … the things you are working for to begin with,” said Neal Zimmerman, an architect who heads Neal Zimmerman and Associates AIA, and is the author of “Home Workspace Idea Book” and “At Work at Home.” “That doesn’t mean if your passion is a 30-foot sailboat, you pull it through your living room. But you can have a nice photo.“There’s no reason why you can’t have nice pieces of art – it can be flat, three-dimensional, it can be a lot of things … that have meaning to you.”In his own home office Zimmerman - whose Connecticut home office was rated by Business Week readers as the best home office in 2008 – has a couple of oil paintings and photographs adorning his walls – no diplomas or similar documents, however. Other eye-catching scenes include a New York City street scene, as he grew up in the New York metro area, and a view of a sailboat meandering down a Montana river.The latter picture, Zimmerman added, is “a very placid scene and it gives me pleasure to look at it.”Such views can come in handy in times of high work stress. Many experts recommend neutral colors or calming tones; however, professionals whose expertise resides in areas such as graphic design or other creative arts may find that bolder is better for their work space. If you often meet with clients in your office, more business-generic than crazy nouveau may be a better fit.“Treat it like a corporate office, but with a bit of flair and personalization - because that's what home office is all about, personalization.,” explained Marilyn Zelinksy-Syarto, a work-at-home writer, editor, and author, who specializes in office and workplace design and issues. “Clients will feel much more comfortable with artwork that is business-like, as if they were in a professional corporate office. It's just human nature to feel more taken care of professional environment. Working in a home office with business-like artwork (with flair) will make you feel more professional as well.”And what about pictures drawn by your kids or their finger paintings? Those can be appropriate to a certain degree , as long as they don’t distract your clients … or you. Zelinksy-Syarto took her kids’ artwork off an entire wall of her office this month after she found her mind wandering every time she looked at. Into the scrapbooks they go.“I feel much less distracted with all that stuff down,” she said. “It's also looking less cluttered in my office.”